Monday, August 30, 2010

Mother's Bias

There is no diplomatic way to write about how amazingly cute your kid is. No matter how poetically I try to phrase it, the truth is it's just going to sound like the gushing of a smitten mama. So I'll just photo brag, instead.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Love, Mommy

Dear Violet,

This summer with you has flown by, my dear. I know Daddy would agree. He's been back at school for almost 2 weeks now and I can tell by the way he struggles to leave our snug threesome in the morning that it's been a rough transition for him. Being away from you is so hard for both of us, but, alas, we like raising you under this roof and on these floors. So off to work we go.

And, you know what, I think you're pretty happy with our choice of sitter, anyway. Sometimes Daddy and I think that you might secretly want to live at Grammy's house. Or, not so secretly, even.

But we have had a great summer together, the three of us. Even if your memories of it don't make it to the front of your mind, I'll remember it forever. Thanks to Daddy's pictures, when we reminisce years from now, you'll be able to look back and see what we are talking about, too.

We'll tell you about how you loved underdog pushes in your little red swing and how the three of us looked like mosquito bait after standing under our big elm tree pushing you until the sun sank behind the house. You would always swing longer, if we'd let you.

Your intense love of all animals will certainly be something that will always define your nature as a child. You would have a petting zoo in our back yard if we allowed it. As a matter of fact, our uninvited feline family member, Henrietta, owes a debt of gratitude to you because her residence here was facilitated almost solely by you. Since taking on any more animals at this point is unlikely, we relished our trip with you to the State Fair this summer where you got to see so many great critters. The bunnies were easily your favorite at the time, but the nursing piglets and the jumping horses are what you keep talking about. The cows were so sweet, but a bit too large for you to trust!

And even though I love to brag about your healthy diet (you ate lentils with kale over a bed of brown rice for dinner tonight!) you, Daddy, and I SCARFED down some fair food!! We all shared a spiral cut potato and you had such fun dipping it in the neon orange cheese. You are from Indiana, after all, and who am I to deny you liquid cheese and elephant ears at the State Fair?

Your Daddy and I deliberated and debated and went back and forth more times than I can count when we tried to decide whether or not we should leave you overnight without us for the first time last weekend. We decided not to and I am proud of us for making the right decision. You are still so little, so uniquely OURS, I just don't think you were ready to be in the care of someone else (even the loving, wonderfully fun care of your Aunt and Uncle), for a full day and night. So we packed you up and took you to Michiana with us where you had a BLAST with your Grandma and Grandpa and we got to enjoy a great adult day at the lake with our friends. And you know what, Violet? When Grandma and Grandpa came to pick us up that night from the lake because you needed us, I was so relieved that we were spending the night with you! I thought I might have wished that we were staying to party with all of our friends, but you, little girl, you are better than any party around! We had so much fun the next morning during our picnic and creek-stomp with your cousins and grandparents. I wouldn't have missed it for the world! The giggling and the frogs and the cool creek water were such a perfect way to spend a day.

Here in late August, I am already mourning the end of this great summer we've made together. I know that we have a few weeks until the season officially closes, but if summertime were a weekend, late August is definitely Sunday evening. I rushed home from work this afternoon and deprived you of a nap so we could hit the pool at least one more time before it closes. Your tired and tanned little self is snoozing now, completely exhausted from sun and chlorine. I know there is lots of fun just around the corner, too, with hayrides and cider and campfires and costumes. I know, too, that we have lots more summers to fill up with memories, but for now, on this summer Sunday, I want to hold on to the two-year-old you for as long as I can.



Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Family of Three

Deciding to make a person is a huge deal. Or it should be. Shawn and I think so, anyway.

This little girl, this soul, this Violet, who showed up on our radar screen-- or at least our ultrasound screen--about 3 years ago, has upended the whole world. She reordered the way I look at work, at food, at birth, at money, at love, at music, at culture, at family, at marriage, at BLADES OF GRASS.

The willy-nillyness with which Violet's cells met seems insane to me now.

I don't see how we can have another baby without first commissioning a study or plotting a graph or at least making a budget.

How do we know this is the right time? How will I be sure Violet is ready for a sibling? Is there some sort of litmus test to determine if we can manage a baby AND an older child? Where can I get the guarantee that adding another Pierce won't be the end to the ridiculous wave of contentment Shawn and I have been riding for the last few years? What if #2 adds more stress than bliss? Would we be crazy to roll the dice?

The "It Will Probably Take A Really Long Time To Conceive So We Will Just Eschew Birth Control" method that brought Violet to Indiana now seems like a naive approach to family planning. People have asked me if Violet was a honeymoon baby; if Shawn and I wanted to celebrate our 1st anniversary with a newborn in tow.

The answer is no.

But of course NOW the answer is "Yes." A trip to Europe or a couple more months of newlyweddedness would have been fabulous. But not as fabulous as Violet telling me thank you after I sweep the kitchen floor. Not as magical as our family of 3 hiding in closets and bathtubs as we play hide and seek at 9:30 on a Friday night.

All of the things I worry about-- money, mostly-- but also the spacing between kids, the balance between marriage and parenting, the question of school and childcare, seem like enigmas. I just don't know that there will be a day when all of those ducks are in a row, when all of those concerns can be put to rest. We could bide our time, wait and plan, analyze every facet of each issue, and still decide next year might be better.

It was priority to me that Violet get to be a baby; that we not hustle her through her infancy because there was a fetus waiting in the wings. Violet would be 3 by the time another baby came on the scene. I think we've succeeded on that front.

Attachment is of the utmost important for me and I don't know how I could repeat Violet's 1st year with another baby. After our first 12 weeks together, I returned to work 32 hours a week leaving Violet with my Mom. Compared to most working moms, that deal sounds pretty cushy.

But I want more.

Ideally, I could be with Pierce Baby #2 full-time for the first year or longer. Mothering is a calling I feel more strongly than any other pull in my life and I would like to devote my all to it. Working apart from my baby for 8 or 10 hours a day feels unnatural to me. It depresses me. It makes me feel like a poor employee and a crappy mother. Before we add a person to the family I would really like to figure out a work/home balance that allows me to be the best mother possible to him or her. For me and for the baby.

Maybe the roulette method is the only way babies ever come along. Happy accidents, unanswered prayers, babies who were only sort of planned but were wholly wanted. Or maybe these questions that keep leading me to think "Maybe next month..." are a sign that I'm not ready yet. Maybe next year really would be better, more settled, lower stress. That annoying tick-tock keeps nagging, though, and I want to make sure that the clock doesn't make the decision for us.

I want Shawn and I to be the ones throwing the dice when we roll for 4.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Little Girl, Big World

At 27 Months, Violet:

Runs more than she walks.

She loves Dora the "Plorer."

Would have books read to her one after another all day long with a willing reader.

Loves her kitties (yes, plural, we've adopted the stray that's been in our yard for months) and generally is quite gentle with them.

Has a nagging fear of the vacuum.

Is a water-a-holic. Whether it is in the tub, the pool, the kitchen sink, or spurting from a hose, this kid is drawn to all things H2O.

Babies are fascinating to Violet (maybe she IS ready for a sibling?). She would really like to hold a baby but she'll settle for having one on her lap. Baby Ava is probably her favorite baby friend because Ava's mom lets her have lots of lap time.

Her favorite foods include popcorn, peppers, ice cream, noodles, corn, grapes, cheese, marshmallows, Aly's cookies, and hummus. She is not picky, however, and warmed my heart the other day when she ate a whole bowl of lentils and brown rice and then asked for more. I am really hoping she won't have to relearn how to eat when she grows up because she'll already be a health nut.

Violet loves her extended family. She sees Grammy and her Schroeder cousins regularly and they are a part of her daily conversation. She also loves her aunts and uncles (Aly for her cookies and singing, Jeff for throwing her around) and loves visiting with them. She doesn't see her Pierce relatives as much, but she still talks about them all the time. Grandma and Logan are two names that she uses alot when I hear her playing and imagining by herself.

She asks permission before she destructs a puzzle.

Outside is her favorite and she loves to go for walks. She likes to gather acorns and look for squirrels to feed them to along our route.

She has real friends. Ruby has been her friend since way back and is still her best girlfriend. Eli recently showed up on Violet's radar and she plays really well with him.

Her words are too numerous to list but a few favorites this summer have been sump-pump and HOME RUN!. She also asks questions that have no answer and I know this is only the beginning.

She loves to wear her jammies and frequently tries to change out of one pair in the morning into another pair for the day.

Shawn has definitely earned major points with Violet this summer. They are closer than ever. Watching their relationship develop has been the highlight of my summer so far.

There are many more things about Violet this summer that I wish to always remember. I knew, though, if I didn't write a few down, they would be gone forever.

The poem was right. Babies don't keep.